So many Claremont businesses need our support

by Steve Harrison | Special to the Courier

Like everyone else I breathe a sigh of relief that the Laemmle Claremont 5 theater has not been dimmed. Claremont prides itself on its art and cultural connections, and how can any self-respecting college town not have the greatest of popular cultural art venues — a movie theatre?

Village West is a wonderful playground, with many eateries both casual and fancy, shops that help us furnish our home, play, dress, or drink, and a public square where families, teens, and elders gather to gossip, observe, and listen to music. The theater has been a cornerstone of this expansion. Losing it would have left an empty shell with an uncertain future. Not being able to sustain an arthouse movie theater says something unfortunate about us.

Sure, we can blame its uncertainty on changing tastes or generational shifts in ways we consume art and entertainment. Or we can chalk it up to the owners of this unique arthouse theatre simply becoming tired of coping with a decade’s worth of hurdles.

So Laemmle gets a reprieve for now, but the owners will surely be watching the bottom line, as every business owner does. Currently there are several empty storefronts in our fair city, including Barbara Cheatley’s (which could count as two) and Heroes (which is being advertised as two). I have to count the huge empty lot in Village West, once home to Rich’s Restaurant Supply, which has been a blight for nearly a decade. It’s concerning how many holes have appeared in an enviable and beloved fabric.

I think of myself as something of a cheerleader for our town. Luckily, my favorite places, Crème and Some Crust, regularly have lines and waits to help expand my waist. But there are many places of business that seem a bit empty much of the time, and I wonder how some of them will hold on. We have prided ourselves on not being a chain haven, yet how businesses can pay the rent when not selling high priced wares is a mystery and a concern. I Like Pie has done it, selling a confection that is pricier than a donut and sinful too, but Honeybird next door, which has made a go of it in pricier Los Angeles locations, is pulling out.

Recently, John and I went to Magnolia Bistro on Foothill in the old Meat Seller location. It’s been open for a couple of years, and I am embarrassed to admit it has taken until now for us to go. We’ve been twice, and some friends of ours have too. We all agree they serve one of the best burgers in town. The menu is limited, the wine list expansive, and the servers are cheerful and wanting to please.

Claremont has so many hidden treasures: Wild Birds Unlimited, Unleashed, Sanctuary Coffee, Rev’d Up Coffee, Elizabeth’s Art Studio, The Velo, Covey Gardens, Teaze Hair Salon, Buddhamouse Emporium, the Cheese Cave, Xerxes, Amelie, the Grove, Nectar, and Jasmine among them. There are so many more. All of these merchants are trying to hold on and trying to provide a quality service or product not to be found in every dying mall.

We need to support what we’ve got. Our city’s uniqueness and its busyness come from businesses that have committed to making Claremont home. They make it a better home for us too. Go to the movies, buy a cookie, find a hat, and get that cup of coffee. There are so many great choices here.



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